Domestic Water Treatment Systems
Water is an abundant resource, but the water that flows through rivers and lakes requires treatment to ensure that it's safe to drink. If your home connects to a municipal water system, the water that comes from your tap should be free of any bacteria, viruses or other contaminants. But if you're not on a public system, have doubts about your water's safety, or simply want to ensure the safest and cleanest water for your family, you can invest in a water treatment system for your home.
The most basic type of home water treatment unit is a water filter. These units can range from filters built into water pitchers or mounted on faucets to large units that filter the water for your entire house. Units bearing the NSF Standard 53 or 58 are suitable for removing particles larger than one micron in size, including the cysts from the parasites giardia and cryptosporidium.
Most water filters use activated carbon as an additional layer of defense against contaminants. Activated carbon consists of specially treated granulated charcoal which has a very large surface area relative to its volume. This allows the carbon to attract and trap organic compounds, chlorine, lead and many types of toxins, removing them from the water supply. Carbon filters require regular replacement to remain effective.
While activated carbon filtration can remove a number of different types of contaminants, few filters are fine enough to catch bacteria and viruses. If you are concerned about the possibility of these microorganisms in your tap water, a water disinfection system can put your mind at ease. One common type of disinfection system uses ultraviolet light to sterilize the water that passes through.
One of the most effective treatment systems you can buy for your home is a reverse osmosis system. Reverse osmosis units pass water through a semi-permeable membrane fine enough to trap virtually every type of contaminant. These systems are even effective against bacteria and viruses, eliminating the necessity of a separate disinfection system. The chief downside to reverse osmosis is that the process is slow, requiring the installation of holding tanks to provide large volumes of filtered water quickly.
In addition to contaminants and microorganisms, your water may simply have too many dissolved minerals in it. So-called "hard" water makes it difficult to build lather with soaps and detergents and can leave scale on fixtures and pipes. A water softener uses charged resin beads to swap sodium ions for dissolved calcium and magnesium, reducing the mineral content of the tap water.
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